Kenton's project has progressed quickly. We sorted out the issue with fluorescence (the light source was not aligned properly through the scope).
Here are some updated Drosophila chromosome images. They have a stain that dyes the DNA and is causing it to glow so you can see the chromosomes.
You can see the banding in the close up above.
Take a look at this!
and the detail below.
The spread isn't good but that's a clear banding pattern!
Now that this is working in Drosophila he has moved on to damselflies; his original interest. He is trying different tissues at different life stages to see which ones give the best chromosomes. The damsel fly chromosomes are smaller and there are many more of them so it is a bit challenging, but there are some more tricks up our sleeves to try out in order to increase resolution. Kenton already has some promising images but I do not want to post them here yet because they are new and potentially publishable results. However, expect an update on this topic in the future.
The last year has been up and down in terms of establishing a Culex colony in the lab. We have learned a lot though. It is critical that they be able to reproduce in the lab in order to maintain colonies. When we got our first egg raft (the females lay eggs on water in floating "rafts") it was cause for celebration for the lab. However, we almost lost the colony twice over the summer. We are trying to keep the descendants from the original ones that reproduce in the lab going and add in fresh wild individuals to prevent inbreeding depression until they are lab adapted. Jolene has been working on increasing the numbers and we now have individuals in four separate cages in two incubators. She is now working with ways to get eggs "on demand" because the microinjection procedure can only be done with very fresh eggs. She arranged this over the last week and expected some eggs this morning. There were 35 new egg rafts when she came in! Each raft can easily have 100 eggs so we had well over 3,000 eggs this morning to work with!
There are 25 rafts in this one tray alone!
Update: The next morning there were two smaller rafts. That puts the number of Culex eggs in the colony this generation at approximately 3,650!
Above is a photo of Áki Láruson working on a model of sympatric speciation (photo used with permission from Áki). Áki is studying speciation and evolution in sea urchins, which includes diving, collecting, dissecting, microscope, and wet lab work; however, another part of what many of us do is to work with and try to better understand mathematical models of evolution. It can get messy, and often takes a lot of patience and time to think through the process. I have filled up many boards like this in the past (and Áki has another board full on the other side of the room out of camera view). Often starting from something fairly simple you end up at a point that is very messy, but sometimes, just past that point, things start to work out and simplify, and you discover something new and insightful---or weird and interesting---or both.